Friday Five

Five things that help me have a better day, every day

Sometimes, especially in the winter or when I’m sick (check, check), it’s easy to feel pretty grouchy. These are some things I’ve incorporated into my daily routine that have really changed my general mood most days, including winter sick days:


Each night…
1. Tell myself to have sweet dreams and that the next day will be a good day.

2. Tidy up for 10-15 minutes before bed. It feels much better to wake up to dishes done, the table cleared, and lunches packed. It also feels good to go to bed knowing these things have been done.

3. Keep a gratitude journal. In January, Chad gave me a really nice diary with a block of space for each day. I split each page in two: on one side I write down my To Do’s (breaking a giant list into everyday, doable tasks has also been a huge stress-reliever that’s made me more productive), and on the other side I write down at least three things I am grateful for or that made me happy that day. Sometimes it’s even just that I got to wear some cute earrings because it was the weekend (I can’t wear them at work), or that the weather was nice that day. At first I felt like I was really reaching to get three things on my list each day, but once I got myself into the habit, it became hard to stop at three most days! Now, throughout the entire day I find myself seeking out things that make me feel good that I can write down later, instead of focusing on the negative things that happen. And, after nearly two months of keeping it faithfully, I had this extremely joyful moment flipping through the journal and thinking, “Wow, I am so lucky I have so much to be thankful for!” I was actually overwhelmed by the abundance of thankful, happy things that had happened each day.

Every morning…
4. When I wake up, I never leave the room without kissing my husband if I’m up first. The same goes before bed–he always gets a goodnight kiss. I think even the littlest moments count, and I feel so loved and loving because of things like that. I don’t even remember when we started giving good morning/night kisses (maybe we always have?), but now I can’t imagine not doing it!

5. Take time for breakfast, coffee and a shower, even on weekdays. You might say, “Well, of course!” to all of that–especially the shower!–but I mean that I try my best to ensure I have a proper amount of time in the morning to have a shower, and then coffee and breakfast with Chad, talking with him and occasionally listening to the news, before racing out the door to see how much I can get done for the day. Believe me, it’s not always easy. I hate the mornings, but that slow, easy-going wake-up time with my husband makes a huge impact on the rest of my day.

I’m still not feeling better today, but I can say that the 5 things listed above helped my day nevertheless.

Here are some things I’m grateful for today:

  • I could watch girly movies to distract myself from being sick (Blue Valentine and Pitch Perfect).


Ryan didn’t play the nicest character in Blue Valentine, but somehow I got over it.

  • I made cornbread successfully for the first time! And it looked like the result was smiling at me.



  • It’s the weekend! And I get to spend (most of) it with my best friend.


Here he is in Thailand, being all cool and handsome, as usual.

So, what kind of things do you do to improve your mood each day?

Friday Five

Five Things I’m Looking Forward to In America

After spending nearly our entire marriage in Japan –even having our first apartment here together!– you could guess that we have grown pretty comfortable here. It’s easy enough to say: we love Japan. We’ve come to a point in which we’ll always be homesick, whether for Japan, or for Michigan.

That being said, we are super excited to go home this summer and see our family and friends. We’ll be buying our first house and starting an entirely new chapter of our lives. Aside from the general excitement of being back in the Mitten, I’m also super excited about some of life’s conveniences I’ll get to enjoy there. Below are a few:

1. Central Heating


That there is the little heater that we get by on, along with one of Chad’s creepy little Kobito Dzukan (Dwarf Encyclopedia character) perching below. Everywhere that is not almost directly under this thing is freezing. The Kobito is probably more comfortable than I generally am.

2. A washing machine inside, and a dryer! Oh god, to have a dryer!


You might ask yourself, “Why is it so dark? And…is that a house in the background?” To which I must say: because the washing machine is outside, and yes, that is a house in the background. The washing machine at that house is outside, too. And, like us, the people living there hang up their laundry outside in the freezing cold, hoping it’ll get dry eventually.

3. A bigger kitchen


Yes. That’s it. That’s the space in which we prepare our meals. Sometimes it gets a bit wild. I have been known to wedge my cookbook in between dishes in the drying rack there, to stack ingredients randomly around the area, and to force myself to take deep breaths when things tumble down after not having sufficient space on which to rest (as opposed to screaming and throwing things).

4. A bigger fridge and freezer.


Here you can see Chad modeling his sexy pajamas in order to give perspective regarding the size of our refrigerator (as well as perspective into his amazing fashion at night). Sometimes when we go home to Michigan we open the fridges at our moms’ houses and just stare in disbelief at the size.

5. A proper coffee maker


So, in case you don’t follow me on instagram or twitter, here’s the deal with this guy: Our coffee pot broke and we kept telling ourselves we could make it through without buying a new one since it would be one more thing to get rid of when we left. I think that was…about two years ago now? We read that pouring the hot water through a drip filter produced better coffee, so that became another rationalization (I can’t say I ever saw a difference in our case, though). Once we had to start making coffee with our ice container instead of a pot, things got dangerous. Earlier this week, as I lifted the container to move it and pour the coffee into cups and thermoses, the filter part dropped down into the ice box, splashing burning hot coffee all over my arm.



    The burn on my wrist about a week after the coffee incident

Granted, the last item on my list about the coffee pot is a bit more in our control, should we choose to do something about it. You’d think we would’ve on the day I got the burn, but the following day I found myself making coffee again with that same damned contraption, telling myself it would keep me from developing an irrational fear of…burning hot coffee. At least our freezer has more space.

Anyway, there you have it. I know the grass is always greener where you water it, and all of that kind of stuff, and that I’m sure to find things that I miss about the apartments we’ve had in Japan (such as the amazing view we have in Kobe!), but anticipating the five things on this list makes the idea of leaving a little easier to handle.

Friday Five

Friday Five

On my way home from a lovely dinner and trying to stay awake so I don’t miss my train stop. I will be working a lot at home this weekend, so I thought it would be appropriate to post this list I made earlier in the week about how to make working at home more enjoyable.


Tips for Working at Home in a More Enjoyable Way
1. Use cute stationary, if available.
2. Work out first, then shower, light a candle, and put on a face mask.
3. Listen to good music (I enjoy classical when working at home).
4. Take a break to remove face mask, and continue to take breaks every 30-45 minutes to stretch, drink tea, coffee, water, etc. and/or go to the bathroom.
5. Consume chocolate as needed.

On the day I wrote this list, I ended up using an aloe face mask (pictured below), and in lieu of chocolate I had some fresh strawberries–a real treat considering a little over a pint is nearly the equivalent of 7 USD here!


We’ll see if these tips help me through the weekend! What kinds of things do you do to make working at home easier?

Friday Five · Learning · Monday Matters · Projects · Seen/Heard/Tried

Big Changes Are Coming

I’m an American living in Kobe, Japan, but I won’t be for long. After over four years of living away from home, this summer my husband and I will be returning to Michigan. It’s exciting and scary, all at the same time. In some ways I feel like a high school or college graduate all over again, with people asking the inevitable, “So now what are you going to do?” And, after all the time I’ve spent living abroad, I am certainly still unequipped with an answer (I can’t say I ever will have one definitive answer for what I’m going to do in my life).
No matter what comes my way I’m determined to stay positive and continue having adventures–even if my adventures might seem rather ordinary to most people. And so here I am with a new blog, one that is more personal than the one I’ve shared with my husband while living in Japan… One that is written by only me.
With this blog I am hoping to play around with the following ideas, though these could change along with everything else in my life:

Monday Matters: Whatever strikes me as interesting, notes about the week, etc.
Tuesday To Do’s/Projects: Creative endeavors I have worked on/am working on
Wednesday Learning: Something I’m learning about
Thursday- Seen/Heard/Tried
Friday Five: 5 tips, notes, or observations

We’ll see how it goes. Before I close I wanted to explain one last thing: the title of my blog. I don’t often read poetry, but when I do I especially enjoy poetry written by Gary Snyder. He has one poem in his collection Danger on Peaks in which he translates some Japanese:

“Inch by inch
little snail
creep up Mt. Fuji”

While Snyder is talking about mountain climbing, I also see the little poem as a metaphor for life. I’m a tiny snail creeping along in the big, big universe, and–no matter how seemingly small I am–I keep hanging on and going up.

Until next time~~